In the news: First interim report on Asian Carp DNA presence released

From the Aledo Times Record: 
""At present, eDNA evidence cannot verify whether live Asian carp are present, whether the DNA may have come from a dead fish, or whether water containing Asian carp DNA may have been transported from other sources such as bilge water, storm sewers or fish-eating birds," said Kelly Baerwaldt, ACRCC eDNA program manager."
Read the complete article here


In the news: Live Asian Carp smuggling poses another threat to Great Lakes

From The Detroit News: 
"Possessing live Asian carp in Ontario has been illegal since 2005, and the province's courts have levied heavy fines that amount to tens of thousands of dollars against those caught with them. In the United States, it is legal to possess Asian carp, but transporting them across state lines is prohibited.
But even with those laws in place, there are questions about how well the U.S. and Canadian governments are working together to stop the voracious carp from crossing into new territories."
Read the complete story here, and order our updated Asian Carp watchcard (pictured below) here 


In the news: Effective and affordable methods could help keep mercury out of Lake Michigan

Mercury content in water is a health hazard for people, animals, and delicate ecosystems, and preventing its release into the water supply is a major concern. A four-year study has found that there are effective and affordable methods currently available to reduce mercury levels in waste water released at a BP refinery near Lake Michigan.

From the Northwest Indiana Times: 
"Scientists from Purdue University Calumet and Argonne National Laboratories who examined the issue for more than four years released their findings in a community briefing at the Hammond campus Tuesday morning. 
In 2007, BP funded a $5 million grant to the Purdue University Water Institute and Argonne National Laboratories to research technologies that would help the company meet the 1.3 parts per trillion Clean Water Act standard for mercury."
Read the complete article here


2012 Illinois Water Conference now accepting session proposals

This year's Illinois Water Conference is coming up in September, and will be held on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. Here's the announcement and request for proposals: 
"This is an invitation to submit proposals for sessions at the 2012 Illinois Water Conference, to be held September 24-25 at the Illini Union, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Over the last 14 years, this biennial conference has drawn agency personnel, academics, students, educators and community members from across the state for a glimpse at the latest scientific discoveries related to our water systems.
Proposals for such sessions are hereby solicited. A session’s proposal should identify a coherent topic that can be addressed by four to five papers. 
Session Format: Sessions will be scheduled concurrently for 90-minute periods. Your proposed session should follow the format of four to five 12-minute presentations with 6 minutes each for questions or time for a panel discussion.
Session Chair Responsibilities: We do not require that session speakers be finalized with this proposal, though you may propose speakers in your application. Following this short session proposal phase, a wider call for papers and student posters will be announced. As a session chair, we anticipate you will reach out to your colleagues to submit papers to your session. We will work collaboratively with you to finalize your session roster.
How to Submit a Proposal: Please complete the application linked below and submit it by email to Jennifer Wilson (jswilson@illinois.edu) by Friday, April 6. The organizing committee will evaluate each proposal. You will be notified regarding the status of your session proposal by Friday, April 13."
You can download the session proposal application here, and review additional information and past sessions topics here.


IISG has a career opportunity for a Community Sustainability Extension Specialist

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is excited to be accepting applications for a Community Sustainability Extension Specialist position at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. From the announcement: 
This full time position will be located at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. This specialist is responsible for developing an innovative extension program designed to empower communities to sustain their natural resources. Programming, products and decision tools developed should assist communities and regions in identifying issues impacting their sustainability and in making informed land use and policy decisions needed to sustain their natural resources and ecosystems for future generations. Programming should span the breadth of issues faced by communities and could include: recycling; lawn management, and hazardous waste programs that protect water quality; green infrastructure and low impact development strategies that protect water quality and reduce impacts to streams and flooding hazards; water conservation and innovative strategies that balance water demand with sustainable supply; land use strategies and policies that sustain ecosystems, farmland, and habitats; and alternative energy strategies that can meet demand within sustainable CO2  emissions. This specialist will serve as a critical link between communities and scientists conducting research on natural resource sustainability. The specialist will be expected to work with campus-based scientists specializing in areas of sustainability and to develop programs and tools that transfer new technologies and discoveries to communities that can apply this work to enhance sustainability. The specialist will be encouraged to work with Purdue Extension Educators and Sea Grant specialists to engage local officials and decision makers in evaluating, prioritizing, and implementing the best strategies for their communities.
For more information on the position including qualifications, visit the Purdue University Human Resource webpage. The job number is 1200417.
The application deadline is April 6th, so visit the Purdue HR page and apply soon. 


In the news: Appetites the solution for U.S. Asian Carp problem?

Once in a while a story here in the U.S. becomes even bigger news elsewhere. That happens to be the case with the Asian Carp problem in the Midwest, as this article relates:
“Outside of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, news of this carp-control strategy barely registered with the U.S. public. But on March 6, it hit China and…microbloggers took to the minor news topic with gusto, using it to explore issues ranging from corrupt civil servants to U.S. sovereign debt…
Within a week, netizens posted more than 85,000 tweets, comments on tweets and re-tweets on the carp rampage. By Chinese microblogging standards, that's actually quite modest. More popular topics can easily generate millions of posts. But such a large amount of commentary regarding an essentially American story is significant.”
Read the complete story to find out why such a localized problem in the U.S. garnered such significant attention on another continent. 


In the news: A swimmable Chicago River on the way?

From Medill Reports, Chicago: 
"Environmentally conscious Chicagoans praised the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s announcement earlier this month to disinfect effluent at the North Side and Calumet water plants, making the Chicago River cleaner and available for primary contact recreation by March 2016."
Read the complete article here


IISG's Lawn to Lake program gearing up for spring

IISG’s Lawn to Lake Program is focused on helping homeowners, landscapers, gardeners, and others adopt landscaping practices that reduce chemical runoff to local waterways, protecting and preserving those sources of water while maintaining thriving lawns and gardens.

There are a number of ways that everyone can keep local waterways clean while keeping their lawns green, and IISG has developed materials for homeowners, landscapers, and others to learn about how they can get involved.

The Nearshore Environment is a new factsheet that provides information on water quality in these areas, how and why degradation occurs, and what you can do to improve a nearshore's water quality.

“Don’t ‘P’ on your lawn” is a two-sided card (PDF) with healthy lawn tips and info on safe landscaping practices. The title is aimed at getting homeowners to watch out for phosphorus in their fertilizers, because phosphorus can lead to excessive algal blooms in waterways.

Finally, Lawn to Lake will be holding a series of natural lawn care workshops. At each one, landscape companies, turf managers, municipalities, and school districts can learn about the latest in natural lawn care techniques and principles, and explore how to expand your clientele and develop a profitable program. The first of these workshops will be held March 21, 2012 at the John W. Anderson Library and Conference Center at Indiana University Northwest from 8am until 4pm. Discount registration is available for groups, and you can find more information about the workshop at www.spcpweb.org/training.

The Lawn and Lake Summit will take place March 30-31 at the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe, Ill, and homeowners and lawn care professionals can learn how to create and care for lawns and landscapes using organic methods. Friday, March 30, the all-day summit will be directed to the needs of lawn care professionals—golf course superintendents, groundskeepers, city employees and athletic field curators. On Saturday, March 31, homeowners can take part in presentations and discussions that run all morning. Topics will include organic lawn and garden care, including specifics on dealing with the emerald ash borer. Both days include a variety of speakers, and you can find registration information here.

For information about upcoming workshops, contact Margaret Schneemann. For more information about Lawn to Lake in the Great Lakes visit www.lawntolake.org/Greatlakes. The program is funded through the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


In the news: Study shows alarming trend in Great Lakes ice cover

From Canada.com:
"According to a February study in the Journal of Climate, Lake Ontario lost the most ice cover (88 per cent), with Lake Superior placing second at 79 per cent over a 38-year period. Lake St. Clair — which is part of the Great Lakes system but is not normally considered one of the Great Lakes — lost the least (37 per cent). Researchers used historical satellite measurements of the Great Lakes' ice cover from 1973 to 2010."
Read the complete article here.


IISG in the news: Asian carp are just the beginning of invasive species threats to the Great Lakes

IISG's Patrice Charlebois is one of several experts quoted in this article regarding invasive threats to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River ecosystems. From Medill, Chicago: 
“I think there are a number of species [to worry about], but they would be more … this is anthropomorphic, but more stealthy,” said Patrice Charlebois, aquatic invasive species coordinator for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Illinois Natural History Survey.
“These other species that would come in or might be introduced would be ones that wouldn’t jump out of the water and smack you in the face. So the Asian carp are very visible. And these other ones, some of them could be very, I think, very detrimental to the lakes, but they wouldn’t probably garner the same amount of attention.”
 Read the complete article here


NW Indiana students engage in hands-on water quality activities

IISG Environmental Social Scientist Caitie McCoy has been spending a lot of time working with communities, government, Sea Grant programs, and affiliated local and regional organizations to help clean up Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs). Recently she had the opportunity to spend some time visiting with students at two schools in northwest Indiana-- sharing a number of interesting water facts with them, as well as getting them to participate hands-on in gathering data and learning about local water issues. Caitie shared some of her experiences and described the help that she’s had along the way.
“Nishaat Yunus, ORISE Fellow for the Great Lakes National Program Office, and I have been working quite vigorously over the last month with the help of others to create educational programming for students in the Grand Calumet AOC. We're working with Robin Goettel and Terri Hallesy to package the programming so it will be ready to apply at other Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) sites, hopefully to work in conjunction with Sea Grants in other states. 
We visited two schools this week. On Wednesday we went to Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, where we had the chance to talk to and work with about 80 9th grade students from Amanda Miracle's science classes. We went on a field trip to the Grand Calumet River and took water samples from stretches of the river that have been remediated under GLLA. Anne Remek from Indiana Department of Environmental Management helped lead the field trip. The purpose of the sampling was to monitor water quality; the results will be shared with our EPA and GLLA project partners (IDNR, IDEM, & USFWS). During the 2nd half of the day, students used a water testing kit with 12 analytes (copper, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, etc) to see what the water quality readings were and understand what they meant. We plan to take another field trip to the Grand Calumet River at some point to check out the restoration project and its progress. We will visit the classes at least twice more to do lessons on data analysis, data reporting, and using data to make project-level decisions.
Thursday we headed to East Chicago Lighthouse Charter School, where we got to speak to and teach about 50 4th grade students from Andrea Bock's science classes. The students are currently growing native plants provided by EPA in their classroom, and they’ve started sprouting! Nishaat and I will be visiting again and taking a field trip to Roxana Marsh when the plants are more fully grown, and students will get to plant the natives that they have been growing on the site. We also had a chance to give an interactive presentation and activity on habitats, and we will visit the classes at least twice more to talk about the cleanup at Roxana Marsh and how to design a habitat.”

For more information on education initiatives and classroom outreach, visit our website here.


Watering webinar March 13 can save water and money

We all know that watering is essential to healthy plants, lawns, and gardens, but how much is too much? Overwatering doesn’t just deplete available water resources, but it can waste valuable money as well.

Whether you run a landscaping business or a lawn and garden supply, the webinar, titled “Overspray = Overpay: What Your Customers Need to Know about Efficient Irrigation” provides valuable tips and information that you can share with your customers about effective and efficient watering practices. Several irrigation experts will be taking part in the webinar, offering essential info on both residential and commercial water management.

The webinar is scheduled for March 13, at 11:00 a.m. Central Time. Visit the Alliance for Water Efficiency webpage for information on the webinar and to register.